Crescent City Memory--Part Two

The women's movement in New Orleans began during the last century with organized efforts to defeat the Louisiana State Lottery, to improve sanitation services in the city, and to obtain the right to vote. Two local sisters, Jean and Kate Gordon, were active in those efforts, especially in the drive for woman suffrage. In this letter to a male supporter of the cause, Kate Gordon identifies "sex prejudice as the underlying motive of the real opposition" to giving women the electoral franchise. [Louisiana Manuscript Collection. Bruns Family Papers]
1800 Prytania St.
April 7th

Mr dear Dr. Bruns,

Permit me on the part of the Officers and Members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association to express their thanks for and appreciation of your masterly address in defense of the principles for which their cause stands.

Personally accept my thanks for your effort to awaken women to a realization of the sex prejudice which is the underlying motive of the real opposition.

Very Cordially,
(signed) Kate M. Gordon

A schooner passes near the Black Bridge across the New Basin Canal, ca. 1900. The Black Bridge, which opened to traffic on the 4th of July, 1890, crossed the canal near Metairie Cemetery. The New Basin Canal, which terminated near the present-day site of the Union Passenger Terminal and followed the route now taken by the Pontchartrain Expressway, served as the city's link to the Lake from the 1830s until the 1950s. [Louisiana Photograph Collection. Alexander Allison Collection] The Crescent City's most famous military organization is the Washington Artillery, founded in 1840 and still functioning as the 141st Field Artillery of the Louisiana National Guard. The unit was established on February 22--Washington's Birthday--1840 and each year celebrated its anniversary along with their namesake's natal day. This souvenir of the 1884 celebration rivals the intricate invitations issued by the city's elite carnival krewes to their lucky guests. In recent years the most visible local observance of Washington's Birthday has been the laying of wreaths at the general's monument just outside the Main Library. [Rare Vertical File: Invitations--Miscellaneous]

The dangerous nature of fireworks as a part of our celebrations of important events has long been recognized, as shown by this 1894 letter from the local insurance industry urging that the anti-fireworks ordinance be strictly enforced. The ordinance cited by Mr. Nelson also included the following prohibition: "No person shall fire or discharge any gun, pistol, fowling-piece, or fire arms within the limits of the city ...." That aspect of our "traditional" celebration of the New Year is one that we striving to bring an end to. [City Archives. Dept. of Police and Public Buildings Records]
Underwriters Inspection Bureau
New Orleans
136 Gravier St.

W. C. Nelson
New Orleans

Nov. 27, 1894

Honorable John Fitzpatrick
Mayor of the City of New Orleans, La.

Dear Sir:-

The approach of the Christmas festivities is already being heralded by the explosion of powder, firecrackers, etc. Several persons have already been wounded.

In view of the disastrous fires which have recently destroyed so large an amount of property, both in the City and on shipboard, we are constrained to appeal to you to have Ordinance #3172, approved December 23rd, 1856, in regard to fireworks strictly enforced by the police of the City, as unquestionably, in the past the evils of which this Ordinance is aimed have been the fruitful sources of conflagration.

... Relying upon your most energetic efforts to assist us in this matter, we are,

Faithfully yours,
(signed) W. C. Nelson

Union Station, Illinois Central Railroad, 1949. The new Union Passenger Terminal, which opened in May of 1954, now occupies this site and replaced five scattered depots formerly used by New Orleans rail passengers. The construction of the modern new rail terminal was one of the grand achievements of the Morrison administration, which failed, however, to foresee the shift in transportation trends away from rail travel. The UPT has changed little since it opened in 1954 and, as a result, the building has taken on the look of a forgotten time. [Louisiana Photograph Collection. Alexander Allison Collection]The Verandah Hotel at the corner of St. Charles and Common burned in 1855. The Marriott Courtyard hotel recently opened on the site was designed to replicate the Verandah. The image on this invoice illustrates just how much the new resembles the old. [Rare Vertical File: Invoices]

This 1805 letter from Governor William C. C. Claiborne to Mayor James Pitot presents the unusual circumstance of the state government (or at least its Territorial predecessor) asking the city of New Orleans for money to enable it to continue its operations for that year. In many ways the state still depends on the Crescent City for its economic viability. [City Archives. Letters, petitions and decrees of the Conseil de Ville]
New Orleans
January 30th, 1805

The legislature of this Territory having authorized the Governor thereof to Borrow for the Public use a sum of money not exceeding five thousand Dollars, I have the Honour thro' you to address the Municipality on the subject; and to ask whether any, and what sum they could conveniently Loan the Territory and upon what Terms.

The Law authorizing the Loan is enclosed, which I pray you to Lay before the Municipality. Permit me to add, that 1500 or 2000 Dollars would for the present answer the calls of the Government, and I persuade myself that the Municipality will be enabled, without injury to the City, to loan that amount for a few months.

I am Sir very Respectfully
Your most [...]
(signed) William C. C. Claiborne

Jas. Pitot Esq.
Mayor of the City of New Orleans

Proud members of the LaSalle School rowing team, ca. 1908. The LaSalle School opened in 1901 as a grammar school and kindergarten. In 1973, the building became the home of NOCCA, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, a public arts high school. By the year 2000, when NOCCA moves into its new home on the riverfront in Bywater, the nearly a century-old schoolhouse will face an uncertain future. [Louisiana Photograph Collection. Municipal Government Collection, New Orleans Public Schools Series]The oyster lugger landing on the riverfront between St. Phillip and Hospital (now Governor Nicholls) Streets, ca. 1900. The oystermen signaled their arrival at the wharves by blowing on conch shells. [Louisiana Photograph Collection. C. Milo Williams Collection]

Harry Isaacson was captain of the Rex organization for the period 1889-1904. In this 1896 letter to Mayor John Fitzpatrick he asks that the city approve a change in the route of that year's Lundi Gras ceremony marking the arrival in New Orleans of the King of Carnival. It is unlikely that many of today's pre-Mardi Gras revelers remember that more than 100 years ago the Monday event was an even bigger deal than it is today. [City Archives. Mayor John Fitzpatrick Records]
Office of the Assistant Treasurer U.S.
New Orleans, La. February 6th, 1896

Hon. John Fitzpatrick/Mayor
City Hall.

Dear Sir:-

In consequence of the great number of participants in the Arrival Ceremonies, on Monday 17th inst, the Route will necessarily be longer, and I propose to March up Camp Street to Calliope, taking the River side of St. Charles Avenue to Melpomene St, crossing to the Lake side of the Avenue, and thence down to Canal Street.

MY desire is to obtain permission to go up the River side of the Avenue, instead of the Lake side, as it will break into the column if I cross to that side, and only go as high as Melpomene Street. You will readily comprehend the situation.

Kindly advise me in the matter, and oblige.

Truly &c.
(signed) H. M. Isaacson

[MSS note at bottom of letter: "Attend to this in time."]


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